Exploring the Cloud Forests of Panama

Boquete was far from what we expected – although maybe that was our mistake. Described by Lonely Planet as “The mountain town of Boquete, the Napa Valley of coffee, is known throughout Panama for its cool, fresh climate and its pristine natural setting. Flowers, coffee, vegetables and citrus fruits flourish in Boquete’s rich soil and the friendliness of the locals seems to rub off on everyone who passes through.” When we got there, we quickly realized the only things to do in Boquete were tours, nothing was free. The only free thing people we met had done was wake up at midnight to climb the Volcano for sunrise – a grueling climb in the pitch black. We settled for a coffee tour (which turned out to be a very nice afternoon, the tour was in English and the farm was run by Canadian expats) and renting a scooter the next day. Continue reading

“Made in America” (Panama City)

A modern metropolitan city and home to the Panama Canal, our first impression of Panama City was something along the lines of – are we in the United States? When the US took over construction of the Canal their influence spread throughout the country, mainly in Panama City. They financed and built schools, shopping malls, entertainment centres, baseball diamonds, and a water treatment centre – everything that all of the American workers shipped to Panama would need to feel closer to home. In many senses, Panama City was made in America, or at least by America. Continue reading

Palmtrees, Blue Seas (San Blas Islands)

The Pan-American Highway stretches from Alaska to Argentina – with the exception of the Darién Gap – a 160km stretch. The Darién Gap is notably the wildest place remaining in the Western Hemisphere – covered in both mountainous rain forest and flat marshland. The area has a known guerrilla and narcrotrafficker presence (and the kidnapping and crimes that go along with it); thus, while it is still possible to cross the gap by land or foot, it is not recommended. With a land crossing out of the question we had the choice of flying or travelling across the Caribbean Sea. Continue reading